Sunday, March 05, 2006

What my Daddy has Given Me

The following is a tribute I wrote for my Dad a few days before he went on to be with the Lord on Nov. 15, 2005. I had the privilege of reading it at his bedside the day before he died, and also of reading it publicly at his funeral service.

I today consider myself to be a very blessed person because of the great privilege God has given me of having had Adrian Rogers as my father. I believe our Heavenly Father has his reasons for giving each of us the parents and situations that he gives us. And, indeed, for some reason, many people grow up with parents and life situations far from what might humanly be considered ideal. In faith, I must trust God’s wisdom as far as they are concerned. I myself for sometime struggled with being a "PK" (preacher’s kid), and with my family continually being in the spotlight. But, as I have grown older and more mature, I have come to see more and more how extremely blessed I have been, and to embrace the fantastically rich heritage that God has given me through my father.

What are some of the things he has given me?

He has given me the gift of generosity. Not only have I myself on many occasions been the recipient of my father’s great generosity – I have also learned from him what it means to be generous. Especially in his latter years, as God blessed my mother and him materially, I have observed as they have sacrificed for the welfare of their children and grandchildren, as they have held out their hands to help the poor and unfortunate without looking for recognition, and as they have sought to invest wisely in God’s kingdom around the globe. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me what it means to be generous.

He has given me the gift of courage. I have had the privilege of having a "front-row seat" to observe the actions and reactions of a true hero. I have learned what it means to take a stand, when the easiest thing to do was stay quiet. I have learned what it means to hold to convictions. I have learned what it means to take risks and bold leaps of faith in order to see to completion visions given by God. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me what it means to be courageous.

He has given me the gift of integrity. Thanks to my Daddy, I grew up believing fathers were people who could be trusted. I have never had to wonder whether or not, behind the scenes, my father was what he purported to be in public. He was not a hypocrite. He never proscribed standards for other people that he himself was not sincerely striving to live by first in his own life. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me what it means to have integrity.

He has given me the gift of love for people. Unlike myself, God made my father to be an extrovert. He has always been naturally at ease in making conversation. But, beyond that, I have observed down through the years, that behind his extroversion is a deep, sincere concern about and for what happens to other people. He has never been too busy to listen sincerely to whoever it might be, and to make them feel that they, at that time, were the most important person in the world to him. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me what it means to love people.

He has given me the gift of acceptance of others. It is undeniably true that in public my father has been known more as a champion of conservative values than as a "bleeding-heart liberal". But up close, in his personal life, my father has shone as an example of liberality when it comes to not judging or discriminating against those different than he. He has been loved by people of all races and backgrounds, precisely because he himself has truly loved people of all races and backgrounds. I myself, in many ways, am "wired" differently than my father. And, in our family, we all have our idiosyncrasies. However, I have observed on many occasions how my Dad has gone out of his way to affirm the uniqueness in each of us. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me what it means to accept others.

He has given me the gift of enjoying life. Growing up in the Rogers home, there was never a dull moment. My father has always had a tremendous sense of humor. He has always had a new joke to tell. He has been passionate in his support of his favorite teams. He was physically active, and played fun games with us. He took us on trips, and led us to experience new adventures. The importance of his place in society has never led him to act as if he were too dignified to have his moments of "silliness" with his family, and even, at times, to let a few others in on the secret. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me what it means to enjoy life.

He has given me the gift of serving as a model father and grandfather. Because of what I have observed and learned down through the years by way of my father’s example, I today feel much better equipped to be a father, and whenever that time may arrive, a grandfather. Because of my father, I know what it is to be truly loved. I know the gift of conscientious discipline that has never once crossed the line of abuse. And, as if it were the "cherry on the top", my two sons have also been the beneficiaries of the special treasure of having a grandfather who has strategically and passionately invested in their lives, giving to each of them the very best he has had to give. Thank you, Daddy, for loving us, and being such a great model as a father and a grandfather.

He has given me the gift of serving as a model husband. To anyone who has had the privilege of spending much time close to my father, there is no doubting the great love and affection he has had for my precious mother. He has honored her. He has provided for her. He has protected her. And he has been openly affectionate towards her. Through good times and bad times, they have stuck together. And we, as children, have always felt the security of having parents whose love we knew was indissoluble. Thank you, Daddy, for loving Mom, and being such a great model as a husband.

He has given me the gift of love for God’s Word. From the time I was born, I have always been a "PK". I have been in church every Sunday. I have heard countless sermons, the great majority of which have been preached by my father. As I have grown older, and been in Christian ministry myself, I have had my eyes opened to the great temptation of slipping into the routine and making ministry just another profession. But today I feel I am much better equipped to stay on course and not lose heart due to the foundation of a true, heartfelt conviction of the power of God’s Word I have received by way of my father. For my father, knowing, explaining, and living by the principles of the Bible have not been just a job, but rather a driving passion that has flowed from the core of his being. Thank you, Daddy, for giving me a love for God’s Word.

And, most important of all, he has shown me the way, through his words and through his deeds, to have a deep, personal relationship with Jesus. More than anything else, my father is a man who has been transformed and molded by the grace of God in his life. Yes, it is true that since birth, God gifted my father in some unique ways. But, at a level much deeper than that, I know that my father has been what he has been for me and for many others, not primarily because of his natural talents, but rather because he has obeyed the call of God upon his life, and has been profoundly impacted by a sublimely practical and deeply personal devotion in his daily life to the Lord Jesus Christ. Because of what I have observed down through the years in my father’s life, I can say today I know what it is to truly be a Christian. Thank you, Daddy, for loving Jesus, and for showing me what it means to have a deep, personal relationship with him.

Yes, indeed, I have been truly blessed. I today am an extremely wealthy man. And I have the challenge before me to be faithful with the great treasure that has been entrusted to me. At times, I feel overwhelmed by that challenge. But, thanks to my Dad, I believe I have the tools I will need to go on. And I will go on, because the same grace of God that touched his life has touched mine as well. Thank you, Daddy, and thank you, God.


Tim Sweatman said...

Thank you for sharing this personal reflection. We tend to forget that within all "great men" there is an actual man. I had the privilege of meeting your dad at the Pastors' Conference in Nashville this past June. Even in that brief encounter his humility and graciousness and love were evident to all.

Kevin Sanders said...

Great post! Happy Father's Day to you!